Black Men And Baseball

My dad taught me to love the game, but for him a big part of the attraction was the idea that the pioneering stars of his generation offered a glimpse of what equality in America might look like.

(Continued from Page 1)

Though I have remained a baseball fan for much of my life, girls and hip-hop would capture my attention in the decade after Mays’ retirement. There were few games that my father and I watched together as time progressed, though we excitedly discussed the emergence of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Godden as the New York Mets first homegrown black superstars in the mid-1980s. There was a decided silence between my father and I, when both of those men succumbed to the pitfalls of being young, black and famous in New York City.

I lament that my father and I never attended a baseball game together as adults—as men who could reflect on the beauty of the game along with the challenges that we faced as black men, fathers and loving husbands. My father’s absence hit home only a few weeks ago, as I watched the opening of the New York Mets' new stadium Citi Field.

On hand for the opening festivities was Rachel Robinson, the 87-year-old widow of Jackie Robinson. In tribute to Robinson, Citi Field features the Jackie Robinson Rotunda where visitors can view memorabilia and video presentations of Robinson during his playing days. Sometime this summer I hope to visit Citi Field with my own children; my father will not be there, but his spirit will be present as I explain to my ho important this game of baseball was to their grand-father.




Mark Anthony Neal is the author of several books and currently completing Looking for Leroy: (Il)Legible Black Masculinities for New York University Press. He is Professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Mark Anthony Neal is a professor of African and African-American studies at Duke University and a fellow at the Hiphop Archive and Research Institute at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He is the author of several books, including Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities. Follow him on Twitter.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.